Stephen Lawrence Murder Trial Days 7 And 8: The Police Have 15 Days To Account For
Adrian Wain in charge of the first two examinations of the victim’s and suspects’ clothing. He spotted neither the very small fibres nor the 0.5mm by 0.25mm speck of blood found on Norris and Dobson’s clothing. Both were identified in 2008 by a science firm called LGC Forensics.
Prosecutors say this proves Dobson and Norris were at the scene of Lawrence’s murder. The defence lawyers say cross-contamination caused the evidence to be there.
Why did Mr Wain not see the evidence found on the two men’s clothing? He says:
“I wouldn’t have found it because I didn’t look for it.”
It was too small. The science was not advanced enough to deal with it. The matter would have had to have been 3mm by 3mm square. Mr Wain adds:
“The size of the stain we could deal with at that time was far in excess of what we could deal with now.”
On the subject of evidence being stored in paper bags, he wrote to police officers in July 2001:
“I was aware that items had been in and out of the laboratory. I didn’t have control of them outside the laboratory. I didn’t know whether they’d been in the same location outside the laboratory. I knew that the packaging was deteriorating, I knew that the seals were deteriorating. I had concerns about contamination.”
Says Timothy Roberts QC, for Dobson, reads part of a police report written by Detective Chief Superintendent Barry Webb in 1999:
“The original Sellotape seals used when the items were seized in 1993 have become so inefficient that in Adrian Wain’s view in the event of alien blood cells being found on the suspects’ clothing in any subsequent examination he would be unable to rule out the possibility of contamination having occurred at the point of storage.”
Why didn’t Mr Wain examine the suspects’ clothes for fibres from Mr Lawrence’s clothing?
“Given that there was this two-week gap between the offence and the seizure of the clothes, I was reluctant to do the transfer of fibres from Stephen Lawrence on to the suspects. That, and with the fact that I understood the attack was brief and contact was minimal.”
Fifteen days after the black man died the police seized the suspects’ clothes.
The police are in the dock.
Mr Wain was assisted by Yvonne Turner, a forensic science assistant,. She made an error. The Guardian sums up:
“She put the wrong case number on a jacket belonging to Gary Dobson… She went on to wrongly record that no tapings of fibres had been taken from the jacket – a yellow and grey bomber jacket – and a cardigan belonging to Dobson…
Working out of a laboratory in Lambeth, south London, Turner had been asked to examine a jacket belonging to Dobson in October 1993. But she wrote a case number relating to a robbery case she was also working on, at the top of the paperwork for the jacket.
“I wasn’t concentrating and I wasn’t focused at the stage when I wrote the case number in, but I’ve clearly got to grips with the case as I’ve written the correct item number.”
The court heard she also marked “no tapings” for fibres had been taken from Dobson’s jacket, even though they had.
Turner, who had been working in forensic science full-time for seven years by 1993, made the same mistake with Dobson’s cardigan. She then admitted there had subsequently been “difficulty locating the tapings as they had been annotated with the incorrect case number”.
The scientist, who now runs her own company as a trainer and consultant in forensic science, said she was unable to say when the exhibits were taped for fibres. Her mistakes on the case notes were corrected before 1995 when her work was reviewed.
Stephen Batten QC, for co-accused David Norris, 35, sees a chance. He asks:
“Does it follow there is a possibility that if something got on to the outside of the bag, in the days when you didn’t wipe things before looking at them, it could have ended up on the bench where you were doing the examination?”
Whereas scientists are now expected to wear face masks, hair nets and disposable coats to avoid contamination, she did not even wear gloves. Earlier in the day the murder trial at the Old Bailey heard that brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt were originally suspects in the case and evidence from their home was placed in the same disused police cell as the current defendants, Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, as well as a fifth person.
Stephen Lawrences’ clothes had earlier been kept in the cell.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, deny taking any part in the attack that killed Mr Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.